I’m overwhelmed with work at the moment, at the start of the semester, and so predictably given the time of year have no time for blogging, tweeting, etc. unfortunately. But seeing a bit of Iraq’s parliamentary government formation session yesterday, I was struck by how the Speaker decided that when the Constitution says “absolute majority” he reads it to mean “absolute majority of those present”, unless it says “absolute majority of the members of the Council.”
The problem being, of course, if “absolute majority” means “absolute majority of those present”, then what distinguishes it from “simple majority”, or just “majority” as such terms appear?
But since we’re going down this track, I’ve got an easy legal solution to deal with the problem of arms in the hands of militias. Whenever the term “armed forces” appears in the Constitution, I take it to mean any “force” in Iraq that has “arms” unless the term is modified with “Iraqi” in which case it refers to the national army. So Article 9(1)(a) refers to the “Iraqi armed forces” as being composed of all of Iraq’s constituent groups, etc. That’s the Iraqi army. But Article 9(1)(b) reads:
Prohibited are the existence of paramilitary militias beyond the framework of the armed forces.
“Armed forces” not “Iraqi armed forces” just like “absolute majority” not “absolute majority of the members of the Council.” So obviously, the Badr Corps, the Mahdi Army, the pesh merga and even ISIL are all “forces” that are “armed” and thus do not violate Article 9(1)(b). Only unarmed paramilitary militias are prohibited, you see. As we definitely have none of those (we barely have any unarmed people left), we have no problem with militias operating in violation of the Iraq constitution.
How easy it is to address Iraq’s problems, once we can make words mean whatever we like!